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I think it might be my best achievement to date, being a finalist in the Family & Lifestyle category of the BiBs 2017 awards! Holding down a full-time job, running a home and family and on top of that writing is not a task for the weak. Continuing to write is a passion, it has to be otherwise why else would I use my precious free time to keep on at it? But it has paid off and I am wearing my finalist badge with honour.

I am over the moon considering the exceptional quality of blogs out there. Loyal readers will know that I have been blogging for over 7 years now, I started in 2010 when there were a mere few hundred blogs and we spent our time writing, commenting and learning the skill that has since become so popular. It was a very different scene back then compared to the explosion of great blogs there are today.

The new bloggers are way more savvy than I was when I first started and it is evident from their presentation, their superb promotional skills and the way they write confidently. However, I have made it to the finals as I have many times in the past, even with my first nomination back in 2010, look I still have my badge!

BiB_2010_FreshVoice

I can’t tell you what it would mean to win this award, having reached the finalists on so many occasions and being pipped at the post I am kind of setting myself up for another disappointment, but like everything in life – if you don’t give it your best shot then you’ll never know. I am very British about asking for votes (which clearly doesn’t help my case) but PLEASE, would you vote for my little blog in the Family & Lifestyle category?

Votes close on 2nd July  – THIS SUNDAY – so please don’t wait, go straight in and plant your cross on my name. I will be forever grateful to you. Just click on the link below and thank you for taking the time.

BritMums

Vote for #BiBs2017 here!

Twins holding hands

If there are two things I’ve been adamant about teaching all of my four children they are loyalty and fairness, these qualities were instilled in me by my parents as crucial to being an upstanding member of society.

I can sit back now and watch Tommy and Meggy safe in the knowledge that certain qualities I have managed to pass over to them. I wasn’t alone, my brothers helped enormously often pointing out to them that blood is thicker than water and whilst they occasionally might have sibling scraps they are still family and no bond stronger.

Whilst I can bask in the glory of teaching Tommy and Megan about loyalty and fairness I am right bang in the middle of repeating the process with the twins. Sharing and being fair is a daily battle as they race to get the ‘best’ seat at the table, pick the ‘best’ item out of the two offered before their sister and begrudgingly had over the iPad when it’s time up for their sister to have her turn.

It’s a hard life isn’t it? But I am sure they will appreciate and learn in time and above all they will learn to love each other and appreciate each other. They’ll look out for one another and make sure that their twin is happy.

It’s a shame such good qualities aren’t held up throughout the whole of society isn’t it? Sometimes it feels like all companies want is my money and they couldn’t give a monkey’s how long I have been them, how loyal I have been. I’m talking about my broadband bundle supplier. I’m referring to my mobile phone contract too. With one I started up two houses ago, can one refer to their life as in the houses they’ve lived in? That’s a total of 10 years with them and two house moves!

With the other I’ve been loyal since the twins were newborns, they slept in the pram between feeds as I filled out all my paperwork and took home my new phone on a shiny new contract. It’s such a shame that my longstanding loyalty isn’t rewarded, in fact I get the feeling they really don’t care about it. It’s all about the quick turnover of money these days.

But then I saw this great video, it’s an experiment and it’s really funny. I am so pleased to see that NatWest are about to change the way businesses treat their loyal customers, spearheading a brand new outlook on what is the correct relationship between businesses and their customers.

At long last customers who stay the long run will be rewarded and how brilliant is that? Finally a corporate who sits up and takes notice of what Joe Bloggs really wants.

Long Live NatWest, take a look and have a laugh …

The message behind this amusing video is NatWest is no longer ignoring their existing customers, they’re putting a STOP on the millions spent on promotions to attract new customers with fancy bells and all-you-can-eat-buffet kind of messages, no more 0% teaser rates dangled in front of their eyes (that actually cost more in the long run *ahem*) and no more hiding all the best online deals so no one can find them.

Isn’t that refreshing? What’s the catch then?

No catch.

Somebody in the boardroom woke up and smelt the coffee thank goodness and now we are entering the era of loyalty and fairness being recognised with the Hello/Goodbye campaign. Keep an eye out for it.

For more information on the campaign take a look at this page on the NatWest website

Disclosure: A post brought to you in collaboration with BritMums and NatWest 

 

twins smiling cheeky‘So what do boys have mummy?’ Bessie enquires as I start the daily rigmarole of dressing them both for school.

We’ve just finished washing so for some reason I assume she means as in ‘fifi’ as we affectionately call the intimate lady parts in this house – what do boys call their intimate parts?

The question is bound to arise sooner or later, right? And tackled head on, decisively with not too much fannying about, if you’ll excuse the pun, should be answered clearly. Right?

‘Willies’ I replied. (NB Is that supposed to be willys? I’ve not really thought this one through)

‘Oh?’ she said.

‘Daddy calls them pants!’ she remarks bursting out in laughter as if it’s the funniest thing in the world.

It dawns on me she was referring to her knickers and not her intimate parts and I have just accelerated the different sex discussion of my own making.

My excuse is it was early morning, I’m on a fixed routine to get them up, fed, washed and dressed and to the school gate on time. LUCKILY for me this time it didn’t go any further but my little Alice who doesn’t say much but absorbs my every word, thought and movement has logged all of this for a future conversation which she will throw on me when I’m least expecting it.

Like in the supermarket queue, in a busy supermarket queue. In the heat of the summer, no not this summer but one not too long ago when she piped up LOUDLY.

‘Mummy, I can see your boobies.’ Giggle, giggle as she points them out to her sister sitting next to her, both imprisoned in the shopping cart to make my trolley dash quicker and both finding this affirmation really funny.

‘Can you darling?’ I laugh looking around me surreptitiously and praying she will drop it and move on if I take no notice.

‘Mummy does daddy have boobies?’ Came the innocent follow up question. Why today in a packed supermarket? I wonder, knowing all of the bored people in queues within listening range are tuned in to see how I cope with this challenge.

‘No, no daddy hasn’t got boobies. Only ladies have them.’

‘No mummy, look! There’s a man with boobies.’ Alice points out to me a fellow shopper in the queue who has been looking and smiling at the twins, remarking ‘Aren’t they beautiful? They must be twins? How old are they?’

WHERE does one look in moments like these? How do you get out of such an innocent mess?

PS He did have quite big boobies too, she was right about that

Marianne Whooley1983Now let’s see if I can remember first of all! 1983…. now that would have made me the fabulous age of 17.

Good God 17!!!

Funnily enough I sent a birthday card out last week that kind of describes where I am now,

‘I remember when rock was young’

said the first bit then nice hand drawn picture, look further down the card

‘..but I can’t remember what I came upstairs for.’

That did make me laugh, hope the recipient found it funny too, you never know with people these days do you? I have met a couple of people in my life who are terrified with each birthday coming round as it means one more year. I’m not bothered by it, any chance to crack open a bottle of bubbly is good for me.

1983

I started the year as a sweet 16, although my mother may have something to say about that. I was at St John’s RC school studying hard for my O levels which incidentally I got 8 of them but failed maths which I never could get into my skull.

I was going out with Tony, my first love. He rode a motorbike which petrified my mother but of course I thought was so goddamn cool, who listens to mothers anyway at 16?

marianne school

I listened to mainstream music like The Police, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, dance music like Earth Wind and Fire, Level 42 and I had a passion for soul and Motown.

I had a Saturday job as a cashier at our local Safeway supermarket and I would work extra evenings and over the holidays too. I didn’t save one penny of my earnings but I did pay for my driving lessons which at the time were £10 an hour.

I loved to watch Top of The Pops, Miami Vice, The A Team. I was a huge Starsky and Hutch fan and of course Dallas and Dynasty.

I remember Marathon bars and Opal fruits.

marathon baropalfruits_

I remember when 10p would get you a bag full of sweets from the newsagent including Black Jacks, Flying Saucers, Refreshers, Bonbons and Space Dust.

I started smoking.

I entered pubs pretending to be 18.

I wore make up all the time I had a huge interest in fashion which has never left me and I permed my dead straight hair!

My weekly reading material was Smash Hits and Jackie.

On my bedroom wall were posters of Richard Gere, Tom Cruise  and the Duran boys *sigh*

smash hits and Jackie

I had my sights set high in life, I believed I could have it all and I wanted it all. I was going to have a very successful career and then start a family around 30 or so.

Mobile phones were only seen in films

mobile phone

I would have paid my life’s savings to have a boob job but er.. I didn’t have any life’s savings.

2013

I never had the boob job and today I wouldn’t waste my money either. I had my first child at 21 and there was no padded shoulder career for me.

Today, my hair is dead straight with the odd grey hair. It’s long and needs cutting.

I have to watch what I eat these days which is a real bummer and I’m very careful about my skin. I have wrinkles!!!

I hardly ever wear make up but I still love fashion, I just don’t spend ALL my money on it anymore.

Can’t remember the last time I saw music live, unless it was someone singing karaoke in a pub I happened to be in.

5 generations photo Jay Mountford

I am mother to 4 children, 2 are grown up and have families of their own making me a grandma twice over – so much for having kids at 30! The photo above shows our five generations.

I have been married twice, I celebrated recently

wedding photo 1st dance

I stopped smoking 10 years ago and have never looked back since.

I love wine, chocolate  – maybe a little bit too much and when I get the time reading. I watch television of an evening to unwind and recently I enjoyed Broadchurch, I LOVED Spooks, I’ll watch any program selling houses and doing them up.

I love to cook, I love needlework and I love my family above all else.

Turkey meatballsWhat an awesome morning!!! I have been hanging out with Marco Pierre White! as you do on a Wednesday morning.

Marco is one of Britain’s most famous chefs, as if I needed to tell you that, with his strong northern ties he’s the first to admit he prefers a pint of beer to a glass of wine which will be music to my other half’s ears and his best tip was Keep It Simple something that many of us forget in our passion to cook something amazing for our family.

Marco and I have something in common – we both worked at Le Gavroche restaurant in Mayfair, London under Albert Roux and that’s where our similarities end. He went on to rock the world with his savoir faire in the kitchen. I didn’t BUT I do like to cook and his tips on using turkey to put tasty nutritional food on the table are VERY inspiring. In fact if you’re looking for some ideas the Lean on Turkey website is packed to the hilt with them. Watch this Google hangout and hear Marco tell me his cracking meatball recipe which is easy to prepare, easy to cook and a winner with kids and dads every time.

I should be just about here  ……………………………………….^^^ up there – see me?

That’s Emma from A Bavarian Sojourn, Claire from Crumbs feed your family and Jacqueline from Best and Beyond sitting before me in taht order :)

Image courtesy of Lean on Turkey